On Friday, February 7, sixty library staff from across the Commonwealth of Virginia gathered for a one day STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) workshop hosted by the Science Museum of Virginia and the Library of Virginia. Funding was provided by the Institute for Museum and Libraries Services (IMLS).virginia

The workshop provided a framework for presenting science challenges to create thinking and learning experiences.’  Chuck English, Director of Playful Learning and Inquiry at the Science Museum, introduced an interactive and thoughtful way to present programs.’  We began by learning fun ways to assess the participants’ science skills and knowledge levels and ended with simple ways to measure learning outcomes.’  In between, participants were given challenges that mimicked a library STEM program.’  One such challenge was, with a bag full of items, create a prosthetic hand for a baby chimpanzee that would hold a banana.’  Although each group was given the same items, not all the engineering designs were similar.’  Another challenge was to trace a body, draw in the skeletal system and then create with an iPad an instructional video.

“Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is vital in today’s world.’  Many people can identify how important it is for education, in workforce development, part of an enriching economy or enabling the building of a more sustainable future.’  The Science Museum of Virginia likes to point out how STEM is part of our everyday lives – something we all interact with, whether we know it or not.’  The mission of the Museum is to inspire Virginians to enrich their lives through science (STEM).’  Working with the Virginia Library Association helps reach out to an audience that may shy away from STEM and how STEM is interweaved into their daily routine.’ STEM The Libraries through the Commonwealth have an opportunity to share this story with their guests, creating these unique opportunities to become engaged in the projects, experiments and observations that help hook people into a desire to learn more about STEM.’  We hope that through this partnership the Science Museum of Virginia and Virginian Libraries both have a chance to help people become life-long learners, and a little more curious about STEM.” – Chuck English, Director of Playful Learning and Inquiry, Science Museum of Virginia

Comments from participants

“The exercises were great…I can’t wait to try them with the kids at my library.”

“Great hands on activities to give [us] experience running a program.”

VA“I think we all learned a lot.’  The hands on activities helped everyone to see how easy/simple these types of programs can be.’  That they aren’t scary.”

Additional resources:

IMLS STEM Resources

YALSA STEM Resources

YALSA STEM Programming Toolkit

YALSA Issue Brief: Libraries Help Teens Build STEM Skill

National STEM Video Challenge

National STEM Video Game Challenge aims to motivate interest in STEM learning among America’s youth by tapping into students’ natural passions for playing and making video games.

Lunar and Planetary Institute’ – Program Guides

Submitted by Enid Costley, Library of Virginia

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